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people finder - historical

Chinese [General]
Greek [Heraclitus]
Roman [Vitruvius]
Arab [Ibn Al'Arabi]
Christian [William of Ockham] [Sylvester II]

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veryard projects > people > Chinese

The Confucian literature comes in two main waves. The first wave was under the Zhou dynasty (c1100 - 256 BCE). Besides Confucius himself (551-479), the two main figures whose writings have survived were Mencius (d 289) and Xunzi (d 235). There are significant disagreements between these two.

The second wave (sometimes known as Neo-Confucianism) was under the Song dynasty (960 - 1279 CE), and included Zhou Dunyi, Chang Zai, Cheng Hao, Cheng Yi and Zhu Xi. For reasons of intellectual politics, the Neo-Confucians preferred Mencius to Xunzi; they elevated Mencius to being second after Confucius, and all but ignored Xunzi.

Apart from the Confucians, we may also mention the Legalist school, of which the most illustrious member was probably Han Fei Zi (d 233 BCE).
On This Website Quality and Eastern Thought
Balancing the Elements of Consultancy
Extracts from the writings of all streams of Chinese thought, including the important Neo-Confucians, can be found in Chan’s excellent anthology. Wing-Tsit Chan. A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. 

Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963

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I have taken translations of Confucius from both Cleary and Dawson. Confucius, The Analects. trans Raymond Dawson.

Oxford: OUP, 1993

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The Essential Confucius. trans Thomas Cleary.

New York: Harper Collins, 1992

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The most illustrious member of the Legalist school was probably Han Fei Zi (d 233 BCE). Han Fei Tzu, Basic Writings. trans Burton Watson.

New York: Columbia University Press, 1964

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Spelling Note

On this website, I generally use pinyin transliteration for all names except Confucius and Mencius. (Confucius and Mencius were the only two Chinese thinkers to be given Latinized names, because they were the ones translated by the first Jesuit missionaries.) Many books published in the West still use the older Wade-Giles transliterations in their titles, however, and I have retained these spellings when referring to such books. This has led to some discrepancies in spelling.

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veryard projects > people > Vitruvius

Quality from Vitruvius to Gates

The Roman architect Vitruvius, who lived at the time of Jesus Christ, defined quality as commodity, firmness and delight.  Bill Gates has quoted and expanded upon this definition.
Vitruvius Gates
Firmness "Consistency"
Commodity “Be worthy of the user’s time and effort in understanding it”
Delight “Engagement, fun”
more Hedonic Pricing

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Ibn Al'Arabi

veryard projects > people > Ibn Al'Arabi

One of the greatest thinkers of the Islamic world.
William Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn al-Arabi's Metaphysics of Imagination

State University of New York Press, Albany NY, 1989

William Chittick is one of the leading modern scholars of the mediaeval Arab world. 

This book is a large and detailed analysis of the writings of Ibn al-Arabi (whom Chittick calls The Shaykh).

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On This Website Software Objects in Mediaeval Thought
Internet Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society

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William of Ockham

veryard projects > people > William of Ockham

On This Website Software Objects in Mediaeval Thought
Internet Here are two useful sites. A search on Ockham or Occam will also yield numerous references to his Razor.

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Pope Sylvester II

veryard projects > people  > sylvester II

One of the most brilliant mathematicians of his time, the French monk Gerbert became pope in the year 999, taking the name Sylvester II.  He remained pope until his death in 1003.

Among other things, Gerbert is credited with the invention of the first modern mechanical clock, as well as the introduction of Arabic numerals into Western Europe.  The Oxford Dictionary of Popes associates him with the abacus, the terrestial and celestial globes, and the organ.  Islamic historians recognize him as one of the earliest translators of scientific knowledge from Arabic into Latin.

Five centuries before Leonardo, six centuries before Galileo, he deserves an honoured place in the history of ideas.  I find it almost incredible that such a man should also have been elected pope.  But fitting, perhaps, that a mathematician should occupy the Holy See as the new millennium dawned.

Thanks to his intellectual links with Islam, some contemporaries saw him as the Anti-Christ.  They saw his election as pope as a confirmation of the imminent end of the world. Their closed world was indeed to come to an end, partly as a result of the technologies pioneered by Gerbert, but this would not occur for several centuries.

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This page last updated on July 25th, 2003
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